Obama threatens to veto invasive cybersecurity bill CISPA

April 16, 2013

The Obama Administration on Tuesday issued a veto threat against the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, warning the bill could violate Americans’ privacy rights and civil liberties.

The White House Office of Management and Budget said the bill in its current form lacked provisions that would protect Americans from having their personal online information shared with the government. CISPA allows private companies to share cybersecurity data with federal agencies and protects companies from liability for providing the information.

“The Administration, however, remains concerned that the bill does not require private entities to take reasonable steps to remove irrelevant personal information when sending cybersecurity data to the government or other private sector entities,” the Obama Administration said. “Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held accountable – and not granted immunity – for failing to safeguard personal information adequately.”

The White House also criticized the bill for allowing the National Security Agency, a branch of the military, to access the information. The White House said only civilian agencies like the Department of Homeland Security should be involved in the information sharing arrangement.

Similar legislation was approved in the House last year, but died in the Senate. House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD)hoped to alleviate some of the privacy concerns regarding their bill by narrowing the definition of national security.

Despite the new amendments to CISPA, 34 civil liberties organizations on Monday expressed their opposition to the bill.

“Although a carefully-crafted information sharing program that strictly limits the information to be shared and includes robust privacy safeguards could be an effective approach to cybersecurity, CISPA lacks such protections for individual rights,” they wrote. “CISPA’s information sharing regime allows the transfer of vast amounts of data, including sensitive information like Internet records or the content of emails to any agency in the government including military and intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency or the Department of Defense Cyber Command.”

The House is expected to vote on CISPA this week.


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